Launching a brand or ecommerce business is risky and expensive. You can do all of the research in the world, but until the rubber hits the road, you really don’t know if you have a business or not.
Early in 2016, I was presented with an opportunity to launch a new anti-aging skin care line based on powerful scientific research. The manufacturer had five products developed and ready, but there was no brand or marketing plan in place.
I had a close relationship with the manufacturer, which had developed several lines for me over the years. But, in the end, it is the manufacturer and I am the merchant. So in this case, I was mostly on my own.
I thought carefully about the best way to launch this new line. We settled on the name NuPeptin and I decided the best place to launch the product was on Amazon, as it would provide insights as to what consumers thought of our products.
Invest in what is important
Amazon is an already-successful ecommerce platform that has huge traffic, loyal customers, and a powerful product review system. Using Amazon, I could be up and running in a matter of days. I wouldn’t have to wait to build a website or spend capital to drive traffic to a site.
Therefore, my investment would be in inventory and marketing. The goal, after all, was to find out whether or not there was a business with NuPeptin before spending significant money.
I chose to set the brand up as a Fulfillment-by-Amazon seller. FBA would solve the issue of warehousing, packing, and shipping, which I was not set up for. My aim was simply to be up and running generating sales, using Amazon’s visitors as a giant focus group to gauge customer acceptance and to access the business model.
Get right to selling
I launched NuPeptin in late August 2016. My immediate objective was to sell at least 100 units of each of the five products per week, to begin trending in Amazon’s search algorithm. This would open up Lightning Deal opportunities and other Amazon marketing features to build on the growth.
I was not concerned with profitability. I was going to manage this to as breakeven, covering just the inventory and marketing expenses. I do this, incidentally, with coupons and discounts that are posted off of Amazon. There are a few good services wherein you can post your Amazon deal and coupon code and they will syndicate it to affiliate sites. AMZ Tracker is one option. I prefer Snagshout, however, which has a broader reach. So, again, with these services you get the benefit of a built-in infrastructure to drive sales quickly.
I also wanted to get reviews, but I wasn’t going to trade free products for a review. That is against Amazon’s policies and will certainly result in getting removed entirely. Obtaining reviews the correct way takes work and communication with the customer through autoresponder emails.
There are several services that help generate legitimate Amazon reviews. I use Feedback Genius because, for me, it’s the most flexible.
Progress and growth
By September, I was selling between 100 and 160 of each of four items per week. The fifth item was not moving well at all. It was a wrinkle cream, which I thought would be the best seller. That confirms why using Amazon for testing is so important.
Next, I adjusted the descriptions and bullet points for all five items. Amazon, like AdWords, has a keyword system. Sellers can see which keywords are driving the clicks for each of your items.
So, based on this feedback, I began making adjustments to the messaging and content. I monitored the results every day. The pattern of using off-site coupons, watching sales and traffic, and making adjustments helps your products to trend higher and faster with Amazon’s algorithm.
By October, I began to receive invitations by Amazon to offer Lightning Deals — where a limited number of discounts are offered on an item for a limited time. This was terrific, especially going into the holidays. Meanwhile, volume was increasing.
We had some good feedback from the customers, as well. All of our products average more than four stars. The next step, to create our own website, became obvious. We launched NuPeptin.com a few weeks ago and are driving the purchases to Amazon for now. By mid February of 2017, we will launch several new items and change the packaging in the entire line based upon customer feedback.
Don’t get the wrong idea. My focus is not to build the entire business on Amazon. My goal with this brand is to make it omnichannel — television shopping, ecommerce, and marketplaces. But launching on Amazon was a low-risk way with minimal investment to learn about consumer preferences, the competitive landscape, and pricing barriers.
I am now better prepared to launch NuPeptin as a standalone brand.